Boulder Shelter leases Mary Sandoe House in south Boulder

Boulder Shelter for the Homeless is leasing the former Mary Sandoe House while considering a number of purposes for the south Boulder property.

While nothing is set in stone, the Boulder Shelter’s Interim Executive Director Spencer Downing said the space could potentially be used to provide housing for senior-age women or as office space for case managers who work in housing services.

The one-year lease option agreement announced Friday gives the shelter flexibility by allowing it to rent the space for a nominal fee while shelter staff and officials think about how to best use the space. Shelter leaders hope to share more definite plans by March.

Mary Sandoe, formerly a librarian at the University of Colorado Boulder, donated her house to the Boulder Gray Panthers in 1980 to help provide shared housing for the elderly, according to a news release from the shelter.

The Sandoe House, at 1244 Gillaspie Drive in the Table Mesa area, operated a 24-bed assisted-living facility for seniors before staffing challenges forced the organization to close its doors earlier this year.

At that time, the board of the Sandoe Foundation began looking for non-profit organizations in the area that might be open to taking on the property.

“Their board reached out to the Boulder Shelter, and we took this opportunity because we are looking to expand our services and resources here,” Boulder Shelter spokesperson Katie Randall said.

As it begins this effort, the shelter is also preparing to hire a new CEO, which contributed to its decision to take time to finalize its plans for the Sandoe House.

“As an interim, I certainly didn’t want to lock in programming that another CEO would have to execute,” Downing said. “That CEO will, I sure hope, lead that process, but the board will be very much informed and involved, and the shelter staff.”

Should the space be used as housing for older women experiencing homelessness, it would serve a purpose much like it has for more than four decades.

“There’s a need for that population that is experiencing homelessness to have housing, and it seemed to me that that was similar enough to what it had been used for,” Downing said.

While Boulder is embarking on its own effort to open a day services center, this space is not being considered for that purpose nor would it be used as an overnight shelter, a drop-in center with walk-up services or a substance use treatment facility , Downing confirmed.

He does not expect the shelter to involve the general public in the planning process but said the shelter is “committed to being a good neighbor” as it determines how best to use the space.

“Ultimately, if the shelter really moves forward (on) this — and I think that the chances are very good that that can happen — then it would be a transfer of assets to the shelter,” he said.

The Sandoe Foundation is legally required to transfer ownership of its assets to another nonprofit organization.

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